Understanding Florida Alimony Rules

Two generations ago, it was taken for granted that a woman would likely stay home with her children while a man worked outside the home to support the family. When parents divorced, though, this arrangement could leave women impoverished and destitute. Alimony endeavored to bridge that gap by compensating women for their work inside of the home and enabling them to get back on their feet. Today, alimony is much less common than it was a generation ago, and anyone – male or female – can seek spousal support. If you think you might be eligible for alimony, here’s what you need to know.

Florida Alimony Rules are Gender-Neutral

Though alimony was once associated with women, both men and women are eligible for spousal support. In colloquial use, “palimony” refers to alimony paid to men. Practically speaking, though, there’s no legal difference between alimony for men and women; courts refer to both as spousal support.

 Who Can Get Alimony?

Alimony is not automatic. Indeed, it’s increasingly harder to get. Courts will take into account myriad factors when determining whether you’re eligible for alimony. Those factors include:

  • Your ex’s income and ability to pay.
  • Your income and assets, as well as your future earning power.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • Your role in the marriage. For instance, did you give up a lucrative career to raise kids, or work full-time while your spouse attended law school?
  • The length of your marriage. Short marriages are unlikely to result in alimony awards, especially not large awards.
  • Whether you and your spouse have an express or implied agreement to share property, divvy up your labor, or support one another as you pursue career or family goals.

Ultimately, it will come down to a question of whether you provided something valuable to the marriage and your spouse can afford to compensate you for that. 

What Types of Alimony Can I Get?

Florida law authorized five distinct types of alimony:

  1. Temporary alimony, which supports you only during the pendency of the divorce.
  2. Short-term alimony known as bridge-the-gap alimony. This alimony is designed to help you get back on your feet, with a maximum duration of two years.
  3. Rehabilitative alimony designed to help you acquire specific skills, training, or education necessary to support yourself and your family.
  4. Durational alimony. This is a supplemental form of alimony a court can award at its discretion if other forms of alimony are not allowed or are inadequate. The maximum amount of time for which you can receive this alimony is the length of your marriage. In other words, if you were married five years, this alimony is limited to five years.
  5. Permanent alimony, the rarest type, is awarded only if it appears that your economic need will be permanent. The judge generally has to cite a specific reason for awarding such alimony.

Alimony in Florida is anything but automatic, but if you need support to stay afloat, don’t neglect this potentially helpful option.